Today, Amazon surprised mobile industry observers when it announced a $499 LTE-enabled version of its new 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD. Like the $299, Wi-Fi only version of the Fire HD, the LTE-enabled tablet has a 1920 x 1200 screen, a powerful dual-core TI OMAP 4470 CPU, and dual-band Wi-Fi radio. For $200 more plus $50 per year for service, you get 32GB of internal storage, 20GB of Cloud Storage, a $10 app store credit and 250MB per month of data transfer on AT&T’s LTE network. Is that a good deal for what you get?
By comparison, the 4G LTE iPad with 32GB of memory costs $729 plus $15 per month for 250MB on AT&T, for a rate of $180 per year without the 20GB of cloud storage or the $10 store credit. Verizon doesn’ t have a 250MB plan, but it does offer 1GB of iPad data for $20 per month ($240 per year).
If you want the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with 4G LTE, Verizon offers it for $629 plus a $10 per month device fee to go with a minimum 4GB “Share Everything” data plan that’s $30 a month. All told, that’s a data price of $480 per year. AT&T’s website no longer offers new models of any tablet but the iPad.
Clearly, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD with LTE costs less, both in terms of service and hardware, than its competitors.
|Tablet||Base Cost||Base Level Data Per Month||Service Fee for 12 Months|
|Amazon Kindle Fire HD w/ LTE (AT&T)||$499||250MB||$50|
|Apple iPad (32GB) w/ 4G (AT&T)||$729||250MB||$180|
|Apple iPad (32GB) w/ 4G (Verizon)||$729||1GB||$240|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (32GB) w/ 4G (Verizon)||$629||4GB||$480|
For most users, 250MB per month of 4G data transfer is practically worthless. According to AT&T’s data calculator, 250MB will allow you to:
By Amazon’s own estimate, 250MB won’t even come close to downloading a standard def movie from its movie store. A few minutes before Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that the standard def version of the Hunger Games is over 750MB and the HD version is over 2GB. With such a small monthly cap, it would take you over 3 months just to find whether Bella chooses Edward or Jacob.
Unless you’re planning to read text-only emails with no attachments, you’re in grave danger of bumping up against the cap. And even if all you do is check email, chances are that you already have a smartphone or some other method of getting that information on the go.
Considering that you’re spending $200 more for the hardware and $50 for service, you’d be better off buying the $299 Kindle Fire HD (or $369 unit with 32GB of storage) then finding a Wi-Fi hotspot or using your smartphone’s mobile hotspot mode to connect from the road. However, if you do want more data, Amazon will be offering 3 and 5GB per month plans at AT&T’s regular pricing of $30 and $50 per month.